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Eason Jordan and Kate Adie?

I have been following the huge coverage surrounding “Easongate”, and what he did or did not say about the US military targeting journalists in Iraq. For those of you unfamiliar with the news, and so big has the story been on all the top blogs, there is now a blog devoted entirely to the story. Eason Jordan is CNN’s top news executive, and made a speech at Davos where he claimed, and may have later retracted, that US soldiers had deliberately targeted journalists. Just about every US blog has something on it, and I would direct readers to my daily reads on the right for the latest.

It should also be noted that back on the 14th of March 2003, I blogged a story about the veteran BBC journalist, Kate Adie, making a similar claim on Irish radio. This was just before the war started. Her crucial claim is that a source she spoke to said that journalists would be ‘targeted down’. I have added emphasis below.

I will quote her exact remarks here. McGurk is the presenter with Adie on the phone from London:

Tom McGurk: “Now, Kate Adie, you join us from the BBC in London. Thank you very much for going to all this trouble on a Sunday morning to come and join us. I suppose you are watching with a mixture of emotions this war beginning to happen, because you are not going to be covering it.”

Kate Adie: “Oh I will be. And what actually appalls me is the difference between twelve years ago and now. I’ve seen a complete erosion of any kind of acknowledgment that reporters should be able to report as they witness. The Americans… and I’ve been talking to the Pentagon …take the attitude which is entirely hostile to the free spread of information. I was told by a senior officer in the Pentagon, that if uplinks – that is the television signals out of… Baghdad, for example – were detected by any planes …electronic media… mediums, of the military above Baghdad… they’d be fired down on. Even if they were journalists…”

Tom McGurk: “…Kate …sorry Kate ..just to underline that. Sorry to interrupt you. Just to explain for our listeners. Uplinks is where you would have your own satellite telephone method of distributing information.”
Kate Adie: “The telephones and the television signals.”

Tom McGurk: “And they would be fired on?”

Kate Adie: “Yes. They would be ‘targeted down’, said the officer.”

Tom McGurk: “Extraordinary!”

Kate Adie: “Oh, shameless, he said, well he said, ‘they know this, they’ve been warned.’ This is threatening freedom of information before you even get to a war.

6 thoughts on “Eason Jordan and Kate Adie?”

  1. I remember this brouhaha when it happened. My thought was that the arrogance of these journalists is boundless.

    Adie tries to make it seem like 2003 and 1991 are fair comparisons, but they are not. In 1991, the US was not considering invading Baghdad. Therefore, the targets in that city were much more of the basic infrastructural type. In 2003 the US wanted to invade and hold the country and had to disrupt all possible communications among the enemy.

    Journalists are using equipment is valuable for an enemy in war time. Does she really believe that the US is going to make the effort to find out who exactly is using those satellite uplinks? Complete domination of communications is crucial in war and for any journalist to presume that freedom of information exists during the war is crazy. If they want to document what happens for history’s sake, fine, but they’re not the red cross.

    What’s true here and in the ’91 war is that the US was so dominant that they could afford some freedoms to the press and allow for them to report behind enemy lines. Obviously, Saddam’s regime perceived some propaganda value in allowing these journalists to report from Baghdad or he’d have had them kicked out pronto. Why were so many journalists afraid to admit that truth?

  2. What the Pentagon told Adie is that the equipment that she was talking about using made her a target. If journalists just avoided using the satellite uplink they wouldn’t find themselves targets. How is an A10 or F16 or whatever supposed to distinguish between Kate Adie and enemy use of this equipment?

    Eason Jordan is a fool and too many journalists believe they’re God, when they’re really not much more than pawns in war.

  3. If I recall correctly, the US warning was in the context that if electronic signals were detected in the battle area that were not from Coalition forces they would be presumed hostile and the source would be attacked. A key element of US warfighting tactics to disrupt and destroy enemy communications capabilities.
    Clearly therefore freelance journalists roaming the battlefield and using satellite communications equipment would be at risk of electronic detection with consequential presumption of hostile status and therefore attack.
    I do not interpret the advice as a threat that journalists would be deliberately or maliciously targetted, rather it was a warning of a very real hazard and risk of misidentification that would exist in the battle area.
    Sounds like a fair warning to me and that Adie is the one with malice.
    In fact, though several journalists were killed during April/May 2003 none were killed as a result of an attack on an electronic communications source.

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